President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday touted the nation’s indigenous ship program as being successful as she presided over a ceremony in Kaohsiung for the launch of the first of the Coast Guard Administration’s (CGA) planned fleet of four 4,000-tonne frigates.
According to the Ocean Affairs Council, the ship was named Chiayi (嘉義) based on the council’s naming regulations for coast guard ships, adding that “Chiayi,” which catches more fish than any other county or city, was an apt name for the ship with the largest tonnage in the CGA.
Built by CSBC Corp, Taiwan (CSBC, 台灣國際造船), the ship has professional-grade medical facilities, as well as a negative-pressure isolation ward and a surgery room, to meet disease prevention regulations, the council said.
The council said that normal sick beds on the ship could also be fitted with negative pressure covers, to decrease chances of infection.
The ship is also capable of carrying one Sikorsky S-70C helicopter, which could ferry sick patients to medical establishments on land and would increase the ship’s patrol capabilities, it said.
Capable of withstanding level 10 winds and undertaking long missions of up to 10,000 nautical miles (18,520km), the Chiayi and the other three ships would be able to deliver disease prevention materials to nearby countries, and help with humanitarian aid, the council said.
The Chiayi is expected to be deployed under the CGA’s central Taiwan branch.
In her speech, Tsai said that the addition of the ship would increase mission efficacy and improve safety for CGA personnel.
The ship’s launch shows that the indigenous ship program is successful, that Taiwan is serious about bolstering its national defense capabilities and marks the beginning of a new era for the national defense industry, she said.
Tsai said that she wanted to thank all who have contributed to the program’s success and the CGA’s personnel, who oversee the defense of Taiwanese territorial waters.
The ship is the largest frigate in the nation’s existing fleet and is the result of successful collaboration with international company Ingalls Shipbuilding Co, which designed the Legend-class National Security Cutter being used by the US Coast Guard, Tsai said.
Although designed foremost as a support ship, the Chiayi could be quickly refitted with armaments if war should break out across the Taiwan Strait, the president added.
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